I wrote a blog yesterday asking whether sometimes we drift too far away from talking about the cross, repentance, sin, holiness…
I’ve had comments that perhaps it’s not just an issue with what we say, but how we say it?
Recently I came across a vicars car with “I was blind but now I see” written on it in 6 inch letters accross the back windscreen (genuinely true! which out of context must terrify other motorists).
It made me cringe.
I’ve seen so many really awful puns on t shirts or DayGlo bilboards outside Churches that make me feel slightly embarrassed.
And have had times of feeling really uncomfortable inside when someone ends up talking at someone about their faith in a tactless monologue without pausing for breath.
I really, really want people to talk about Jesus, to live missionally, to share their faith intentionally, but sometimes I want us all to do it well and be fruitful.
I used to feel bad about being ebarrassed about people who were clearly sincere doing wonderful things for God.
“At least they are doing something” I used to think.
However, the Bible does talk about “Zeal without Wisdom being folly”, to “be wise how we treat outsiders”… “(Always be prepared to give an account for the hope that you have) But do so with gentleness and respect”.
The Bible really values wisdom, in fact James says “if anyone lacks wisdom s/he should ask God who gives generously”, often in our desire to share our faith we often lack wisdom, we don’t have empathy with those we are talking too, sometimes we make people feel like they’re ‘a scalp’ or a ‘project’, something I never get the impression Jesus did.
Are we more interested in “selling” the Gospel than building a relation or launching bible bombs at a distance rather than actually getting to know a person as a person.
A great question to ask ourselves would be “if they never became a Christian would I still love them?” -We need to love people to be saved, rather than love them just to save them.
Love them no matter what.
Learn to talk their language, and understand their world…
Yet Churches etc often expect the person who is seeking faith to learn our Churchy Langauge and understand our (very weird) world.
If we want people to listen to the thing that matters most to us, do we listen to what matters to them?
How easy is it for people to talk about Christ with us? Do we have our walls around us which make it hard to talk to us about certain subjects, particularly the awkward area of faith.
In the anglican ordinal we commission people being ordained to “proclaim the gospel afresh” and yet so often we simply “Proclaim it again”, not thinking how the people of our time and culture can hear it in a way they can understand and relate to.
When we look at the Bible, we see in Acts 2 Peter talking to the Jewish people about who Jesus was and Acts 15 with Paul in Athens explaining the message of Christ via the altar of the unknown God, very different messages but the same gospel revealed by the same Holy Spirit to people from differnent culture, language and world view. A friend described this method of sharing our faith, as “look, listen and step out” -which I quite like.
Learning how to listen both to the whisper and nudge of the Holy Spirit and listen to the person we are with and the wider context of the environment they inhabit.
People often say they don’t know what to say evangelistically but we are promised that the Holy Spirit will give us the words. Yet, I also believe that study and personal devotion and daily discipline actually is at the heart of being a good evangelist. One of my college lecturers once said “to explain something simply is to understand it deeply”, if we are immersed in the deep things of God, studying and growing in faith, then we find that “understanding deeply explain simply” can be Gods preperation in us, for building his Kingdom through us.
As we think about God at work in us, not only will we be better about speaking of our faith, but also the more time we spend with God the more he shines out from us, people need to see the reality of the difference Christ makes in our lives, shining out from us, like treasures in jars of clay, gleaming in our lives, Christ in us the hope of glory being a visual reality.
And maybe your reading this blog wincing about past mistakes (if it helps I have made many mistakes with sharing my faith!) yet I also know God can redeem our mistakes, use our failings, and often I believe our feble attempts at sharing our faith echo with the tremendous “Amen” from heaven.
So to conclude lets cry out to God for wisdom, let’s learn to listen to the Spirit of God, the person and to the environment, let’s meet them where they are at, serving and loving them irrespective of their response, making it as easy as possible for them to talk to you about Jesus if they want to… investing in our own relationship with God that we are able to share well because we’ve let God be at work within us and to transform us.
And lastly are we people who are praying and eagerly expectant for God to act to be at work in the hearts and lives of those we meet, finding out what God is doing and joining in.
If we are joining in and partnering with God, then we need to be seeking to do this as well and as best we can because this is an awesome privildge.